Monday, August 24, 2009

Steve McNair; Or How Not to Plan Your Estate

A year or so ago, I sent a letter to my clients with minor children advising them of the need to do some simple estate planning. It was something I felt strongly about.

Like every Nashvillian, I was shocked to learn of Steve McNair’s awful murder on the 4th of July. I was surprised but not exactly shocked to learn that he had died without a will, and that in addition to the children he had with his wife, Mechelle, he had children from previous relationships in Mississippi (Steven L. McNair, Jr. and Steven O’Brian Koran McNair).

McNair reportedly earned over $90 million during his tenure in the NFL and owned property and held investments in both Tennessee and Mississippi. That means that at least these two states will be involved in the probate of his estate. To leave his wife without any clear picture of how to handle this is inconceivable. Worse, an action between the heirs could literally pit brother against brother and put the widow in a terrible position. None of this contemplates the horrible estate tax consequences of leaving so much money and property unsheltered.

All these possible hellish family scenarios could have been avoided by some simple planning, as could have most of the estate tax consequences.

It will be interesting and instructive to see how this plays out, but it won’t be pretty. This is why if you have children or if you own any assets at all, you need to do some estate planning.

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